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How Lopez Island's Land Trust Model is Redefining Community Development

In the picturesque Lopez Island in Washington State, an innovative approach to land management is taking shape, demonstrating how land trusts can play a pivotal role in fostering sustainable communities. The collaboration between the Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT) and Barn Owl Bakery is a prime example of this innovative model, reflecting a broader movement towards sustainable and equitable land use.

small business owners
Barn Owl Bakery Team

LCLT, established in 1989 in response to a 190% rise in housing costs within a single year, has long been committed to building a sustainable Lopez Island community. Their approach integrates affordable housing, sustainable agriculture, and rural development programs. This commitment aligns perfectly with the vision of Sage Dilts and Nathan Hodges, founders of Barn Owl Bakery, who sought to create a stable foundation for their farm and bakery amidst the island's challenging real estate market.

In 2023, a significant step was taken when LCLT agreed to purchase 17.5 acres of land, the home of Barn Owl Bakery. This partnership allows Sage and Nathan to focus on their thriving business, free from the burden of land debt, thanks to a 99-year lease with LCLT. This arrangement secures the bakery's future and ensures the land remains dedicated to the local food system.

Barn Owl Bakery's journey began in 2013, with a vision to cultivate a diverse agro-forestry system and preserve rare and heritage grain varieties. Their commitment to sustainable farming and nurturing perennial crops has made them a unique and integral part of the Lopez Island community. This innovative land trust model offers them a sustainable solution to continue their growth amidst the high land costs on the island.

This model of land trusts is crucial, especially in areas like Lopez Island where high property values and limited land availability pose significant challenges. By holding land in trust, LCLT removes it from the speculative market, ensuring its use for community-oriented purposes. This approach not only supports sustainable agricultural practices but also provides a blueprint for preserving working landscapes and fostering local food security.

The significance of this partnership extends beyond Lopez Island, serving as a model for communities nationwide grappling with similar challenges of balancing development, conservation, and community needs. The LCLT and Barn Owl Bakery story demonstrates how creative land stewardship can lead to thriving local economies and sustainable community development.

wheat farmers
Wheat Farming Lopez Community Land Trust

As LCLT works towards completing the purchase of the land by June 2024, they invite the community and supporters to join in this historic venture. Contributions to the “Land-Only Purchase at Barn Owl Bakery” are an investment in a sustainable future where local businesses are supported, and community values are upheld.

To be a part of this groundbreaking initiative and help secure a sustainable future for Barn Owl Bakery and the Lopez Island community, you can make a tax-deductible donation at This project is more than a land purchase; it's a commitment to a resilient, community-driven future.

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